Atrophy, oxidative switching and ultrastructural defects in skeletal muscle of the ataxia telangiectasia mouse model

Valentina Tassinari, Vincenzo De Gennaro, Gina La Sala, Daniela Marazziti, Giulia Bolasco, Salvatore Aguanno, Luciana De Angelis, Fabio Naro, Manuela Pellegrini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ataxia telangiectasia is a rare, multi system disease caused by ATM kinase deficiency. Atm-knockout mice recapitulate premature aging, immunodeficiency, cancer predisposition, growth retardation and motor defects, but not cerebellar neurodegeneration and ataxia. We explored whether Atm loss is responsible for skeletal muscle defects by investigating myofiber morphology, oxidative/glycolytic activity, myocyte ultrastructural architecture and neuromuscular junctions. Atm-knockout mice showed reduced muscle and fiber size. Atrophy, protein synthesis impairment and a switch from glycolytic to oxidative fibers were detected, along with an increase of in expression of slow and fast myosin types (Myh7, and Myh2 and Myh4, respectively) in tibialis anterior and solei muscles isolated from Atm-knockout mice. Transmission electron microscopy of tibialis anterior revealed misalignments of Z-lines and sarcomeres and mitochondria abnormalities that were associated with an increase in reactive oxygen species. Moreover, neuromuscular junctions appeared larger and more complex than those in Atm wild-type mice, but with preserved presynaptic terminals. In conclusion, we report for the first time that Atm-knockout mice have clear morphological skeletal muscle defects that will be relevant for the investigation of the oxidative stress response, motor alteration and the interplay with peripheral nervous system in ataxia telangiectasia.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 4 2019


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